Virtual motorsport: a visit to the E-Race Center
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Virtual motorsport: a visit to the E-Race Center

Simon Balissat
20.11.2023
Translation: Elicia Payne

Luca Würth and his company build racing simulators at the request of customers. He’s primarily concerned with realism. Read on to learn more about my visit to the newly established E-Race Center in Baden.

Suddenly, the bend is tighter than I remember. The Porsche 911 GT3R hits the crash barrier at the Adenauer Forst entrance, and after six of twenty-five kilometres it’s over.

I’m not in The Eifel, where the Nürburgring (nicknamed The Green Hell) is located, but in an industrial building between Baden and Neuenhof in the canton of Aargau. The newly opened E-Race Center offers eight racing simulators, which Luca Würth from Hybracing.ch put into operation a few days ago. «Maybe you shouldn’t always drive at full throttle?» jokes Luca. Easy for him to say. After all, he’s at the top of the internal leaderboard for a lap on the virtual Nordschleife.

Luca Würth (right) explains to me how he assembles his sim rigs.
Luca Würth (right) explains to me how he assembles his sim rigs.
Source: Christian Walker

Luca heard about my enthusiasm for sim racing in the A Tech Affair podcast and got in touch with me. He purchases PC components and screens for the simulators from us. The Samsung G9 curved monitors are an important part of this.

Sim racing is short for simulation racing and is a genre of video games that attempts to simulate motorsport as accurately as possible. In contrast to racing games such as Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, the cars and tracks are modelled on their real-life counterparts down to the smallest detail. These simulators are almost impossible to operate with just a gamepad and no steering wheel or pedals.

Here’s the whole setup:

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 - G95NC (7680 x 2160 pixels, 57")
Monitor
1954.–

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 - G95NC

7680 x 2160 pixels, 57"

G
AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D (AM5, 4.20 GHz, 8 -Core)
Processors
342.–

AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D

AM5, 4.20 GHz, 8 -Core

Kingston FURY Beast (2 x 32GB, 6000 MHz, DDR5 RAM, DIMM)
RAM
212.–

Kingston FURY Beast

2 x 32GB, 6000 MHz, DDR5 RAM, DIMM

be quiet! Dark Base 700 (mATX, Mini ITX, E-ATX, ATX)
PC case
164.–

be quiet! Dark Base 700

mATX, Mini ITX, E-ATX, ATX

Samsung 980 Pro (2000 GB, M.2 2280)
SSD
168.– 84.–/1TB

Samsung 980 Pro

2000 GB, M.2 2280

ASUS TUF Gaming X670E-Plus (AM5, AMD X670E, ATX)
Motherboards
261.–

ASUS TUF Gaming X670E-Plus

AM5, AMD X670E, ATX

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 - G95NC (7680 x 2160 pixels, 57")
G
1954.–

Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 - G95NC

7680 x 2160 pixels, 57"

AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D (AM5, 4.20 GHz, 8 -Core)
342.–

AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D

AM5, 4.20 GHz, 8 -Core

Kingston FURY Beast (2 x 32GB, 6000 MHz, DDR5 RAM, DIMM)
212.–

Kingston FURY Beast

2 x 32GB, 6000 MHz, DDR5 RAM, DIMM

be quiet! Dark Base 700 (mATX, Mini ITX, E-ATX, ATX)
164.–

be quiet! Dark Base 700

mATX, Mini ITX, E-ATX, ATX

Samsung 980 Pro (2000 GB, M.2 2280)
168.– 84.–/1TB

Samsung 980 Pro

2000 GB, M.2 2280

ASUS TUF Gaming X670E-Plus (AM5, AMD X670E, ATX)
261.–

ASUS TUF Gaming X670E-Plus

AM5, AMD X670E, ATX

The Sparco racing seat is mounted on a SIMRIG SR2 full-motion system. This transmits movements directly to the racing seat. The wheelbase and the steering wheel come from Fanatec.

Disclaimer, since we’re asked about this again and again: unfortunately we don’t have Fanatec in our range, the company only sells its wheelbases and steering wheels directly to customers. I’ve linked an alternative at the end of the article.

Sorry, we still don’t sell Fanatec products. But at the end of the article, I’ll give you some suggestions for alternatives.
Sorry, we still don’t sell Fanatec products. But at the end of the article, I’ll give you some suggestions for alternatives.
Source: Christian Walker

A need for speed: AMD instead of Nvidia

What’s a little strange about the build is that Luca relies on AMD instead of Nvidia. In general, Nvidia cards offer slightly more power, but also cost more. But a tight budget isn’t the reason for this: «Nvidia doesn’t have Displayport 2.1 support and as a result doesn’t support the dual UHD resolution at the full 240 Hz». A problem that our colleague Samuel has already criticised in his G9 review. A high refresh rate is essential for sim racing. In my test race, it was constantly around 140 fps. «In my experience, you don’t feel the difference at fps above 120. But the difference between 60 and 120 is huge,» says Luca.

The curved monitor with 2x UHD resolution lets me take a virtual seat in the car...
The curved monitor with 2x UHD resolution lets me take a virtual seat in the car...
Source: Christian Walker
... and is firmly held to the frame thanks to the VESA mount.
... and is firmly held to the frame thanks to the VESA mount.
Source: Christian Walker

The monitors are screwed to a solid VESA monitor mount from Simlab. Despite jerky movements from the motion system there’s no issues. It’s steady as a rock. The widescreen display allows me to really immerse myself in the simulation. I can at least see the left rear-view mirror and easily recognise the other competitors’ cars. The alternative would be a setup with three monitors. According to Luca this would be much more complex to attach and not optimal in terms of maintenance. As soon as there are driver updates or updates to the racing simulation, the monitors have to be recalibrated and realigned, says Luca. An even larger 16:9 curved screen like the Odyssey Ark is also less of an option. «You would see more of the roof of the car and more of the steering wheel on the screen, which is irrelevant for driving. In sim racing, I mainly want to expand my field of vision to the left and right».

Up to eight people can compete against each other.
Up to eight people can compete against each other.
Source: Christian Walker

One more go! And another go!

Assetto Corsa (or AC for short) is used in the newly opened Sim Racing centre in Baden. The simulation is already a little outdated and an early access, second version is due to be released next year. AC is ideal for a centre like this one because there’s an almost infinite number of mods. Pascal Keller, head of the centre, sent me out for a spin in a Nissan GT3 in Spielberg. An impressive experience, not least thanks to the monitor. I zoom past the pit wall and everything runs as smooth as butter. I can feel every gear change thanks to the motion platform.

The comparison between this setup and my Logitech steering wheel at home is like night and day. In the first few laps, I’m still feeling my way around before I really put my foot to the floor. I’m seized by ambition. Lap after lap, I improve my times – or I spin off the track because I’m too eager. A real rush sets in. I can only imagine what it’s like to drive against seven others in multiplayer, including a free practice and qualifier. Luca smirks with satisfaction. «Go ahead, we have time»!

In Spielberg with the Nissan.
In Spielberg with the Nissan.

Racing against Max Verstappen

Sim racing centres are primarily used as event locations. Instead of going bowling or karting, you go virtual racing. However, most of the sim-rig salesman Luca’s customers are racing drivers. «Motorsport comes to a standstill in winter, so the simulation is ideal for training.» Thanks to mod support, various hill climbs in Switzerland are virtually available too. Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen is also an enthusiastic sim racer. «We were out and about with our team at the virtual 24-hour race on the Nordschleife, where Verstappen also took part,» says Luca, beaming. «Verstappen was on the server with the strongest teams. He was eight seconds faster per lap during the night than our best driver during the day. I’ve no idea how.»

At least Luca has set an initial benchmark at the E-Racing Center in Baden. I can’t beat his time of 7:07 in the Porsche. I’m aiming to finish in 7:33 and

I don’t want to give up just yet,

so I’ve already booked my next visit.

Frustration after a rubbish lap.
Frustration after a rubbish lap.

You can find the E-Racing-Center Baden here.
If you’re also interested in a sim rig, you can find Luca’s company here.

A great alternative to Fanatec are the steering wheels and pedals from Moza, which we have in our range. This starter set is only compatible with PC.

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When I flew the family nest over 15 years ago, I suddenly had to cook for myself. But it wasn’t long until this necessity became a virtue. Today, rattling those pots and pans is a fundamental part of my life. I’m a true foodie and devour everything from junk food to star-awarded cuisine. Literally. I eat way too fast. 


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